In his 18 years patrolling the streets of Las Vegas, Sgt. Richard Bilyeu had never dealt with anything quite like what he saw that morning in September.
It’s the story of “the missing hand,” he recalled after a “bravery and excellence” award ceremony at Metropolitan Police Department headquarters Wednesday.
Bilyeu was dispatched to Durango Drive and Spring Mountain Road, where bystanders found a woman badly bleeding. They thought she had been struck by a car, he said.
When he got there, he found the woman sitting on the ground wearing roller skates, her left hand missing.
Worried that her hand was possessed, the woman had cut it off, Bilyeu said.
But he acted quickly despite his shock and applied a tourniquet to her arm, and by the time she had arrived at University Medical Center for treatment, the bleeding had stopped.
Bilyeu said he met the woman at the hospital, but not before searching for her missing hand, which he found under a rock.
“Bleeding can be a life-threatening condition, so taking care of that in a timely fashion allowed her to be in a stable condition, and she was able to undergo surgery to salvage her hand,” said Dr. Allison McNickle, the trauma surgeon who operated on the woman that day. “She had the best opportunity for the best possible outcome, and that’s what we appreciate: a partnership that allows us to save lives like that.”
Bilyeu, who was presented with Metro’s lifesaving award, was among at least 40 others recognized at the ceremony.
“This is an exceptional organization made up of exceptional people who live that life of public service that care so much about this community,” Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said during the ceremony.
Meanwhile, two teams were awarded with the department’s “unit exemplary service award,” which recognizes a team for “a singular accomplishment of substance without risk to personal safety but under adverse and difficult conditions,” Metro spokeswoman Carla Alston said.
The first was a team of five fatal traffic investigators who worked tirelessly for two weeks to reconstruct the scene of a deadly DUI crash in August that left 8-year-old Levi Echenique dead.
Levi was on his way to school with his parents when Aylin Alderette, 25, plowed into his family’s vehicle.
The end result of the team’s investigation, which typically would have taken months to build, was the first case of its kind in Clark County history to lead to a second-degree murder conviction, according to Alston.
Alderette was sentenced in November to serve up to 65 years in prison.
“This was one of those forefront cases that set a precedent for the state,” Sgt. Paul McCullough said after the ceremony. “This charge is going to be on the table for these cases here on out.”
Police have said that the investigation was a combination of math and science. Data downloaded from Alderette’s car showed she was driving 103 mph before running a red light at Eastern and Harmon avenues — a 45 mph zone.
The second group to receive the service award was a 26-person “1 October ballistics team” made up of investigators from Metro and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
They worked for more than a month straight, according to Metro Sgt. Jason Johansson, to process the large cache of firearms at the scene of the Route 91 Harvest festival mass shooting on Oct. 1, 2017.